15 Nov 2012

Smells Like Free Spirit (Part 4)

"Not all those who wander are lost." - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings first volume, The  Fellowship of the Ring, 1954

I am convinced that no matter their age, free spirits are young at heart. Their outlook, their stance, their attitude, their drive, mean that they remain young and radiate inner beauty. They won't turn into those bitter old prunes that make ageing look like a disadvantage. Rather they will embrace the past, present and future, take experience in their stride and still look on the bright side of life, a glint of mischief in the eye and marvel at the ready, their skin sunkissed and their footstep light and airy!

By Studio Wonder, via Cargo Collective

Believe you me, the world needs more of us free spirits! The vast majority of us are not on this planet to cause trouble and start revolutions, we just see the world differently and want fairness. I'll just take one example. I am a lifelong devotee to the animal cause and became a vegetarian after years of being pressured by my peers (starting off with my parents) into the carnivorous diet. I one day decided I was lying to myself and this had to stop! I will happily discuss my vegetarian reasons to whoever is keen to listen, and maybe suggest that they compromise and give it a try, if only for once a week, but I will not force my views onto anyone! And since you're asking, ironically most - if not all - of my friends aren't veggies, yet they have somehow curbed their meat-loving ways after I gave them some food for thought!

My industry sector (sustainable agriculture and preservation of old cultivated varieties) is prone to attract a good number of free spirits and 'affiliates'. The fact that I live on a holiday island adds to the attraction. Meeting those gals and guys from different walks of life and corners of the world has been enlightening to me and I have utterly relished the experience! It has broadened my own perceptions of life.

'Lemonia philopalus', by CraftyPip (Philip Heinzl), via Flickr

The free spirits I met travel light, head for the roads less travelled inland and will rarely settle down. No, they don't all physically look like hippies, some of the cool dudes I met might feel slightly insulted by the connotation! Meanwhile I am still trying to work out how some of them guys manage to sustain a living, being nomadic 'no-strings-attached' types with no fixed employment or abode for that matter, sleeping in their cars, on friends couches, in disused buildings or on the beaches in Summer... There is a sense of community amongst free spirits as I found out, and those with a roof over their heads will open their doors to the less fortunate. We end up bumping into familiar faces across the island, sharing similar experiences and hanging out together...

Despite not having regular employment, and only surviving on fruit-picking, pastoral activities and the odd building job, some of them can somehow afford to travel on to faraway shores like Thailand, without (seemingly) a money care in the world, while Corsica has either become their homebase of sorts, their stopover, or gateway destination to the rest of the world... Corsica gives them a taste for adventure and trampolines them into the wider world! Some are here today, and who knows where they'll be tomorrow!

'Male Rufous Hummingbird', photo by cdbtx, via Flickr

Some of them, skilled or unskilled trade guys, head for ecovillages as wwoofers to experience a new community spirit, contribute to the common good and hopefully learn a skill and make friends. Some others, after years of wandering about, end up settling down on the island, and they do so in their own terms, while staying true to their own principles: on the cheap, building environmentally-friendly tippees on either rented, lended or purchased land. Some push the boat further, and unite with a common dream of building alternative rural communities based around permaculture and made out of ideas and ideals, makeshift and hard graft, without compromising on the good life (beach parties, music festivals, and yay more parties)!

Some have landed from continental France with a skeleton or two in the closet and I have become good at picking the vibe. No questions asked, no comments passed, if they want to confide, they know where I am and sure I'll lend a sympathetic ear. Their experience will help them grow, sharing it will help them understand it better and the listener will benefit from it too. Meanwhile everyone is entitled to second chances, everyone has the right to want to escape their troubled past and start over, or at least kick-start a process that will take them onto a new life journey.

'Ceremonial Textile (Sarita)', Indonesia, Sulawesi, via The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Herewith I have ambitiously attempted to share reflections on free spirits, and the journey has turned more personal than I thought it would. It has amplified my travel wanderlust, made me yearn for vast unspoilt territories, and when it would have been easy to get critical over the lifestyle choices of some of those free spirits, it actually helped me understand them better.

In the history of La Baguette Magique, this post is the longest I have ever written, and the first to be spread over four parts. Yep this is telling something... I'm on the verge of a personal discovery and it's all good! Thanks for reading this personal odyssey of mine, and I hope it will have transported you to new territories and you will have found it refreshing and inspirational!


Smells Like Free Spirit is a 4-part series:  Part 1  |  Part 2  |  Part 3  |  Part 4

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